Friday, July 6, 2012

If you can't beat em, join em

I've worked for many different types of restaurants in many different places but it's only over the past several years that I've found myself working for a large corporate chain and they certainly have a distinctive managerial culture. It is a culture of smoke and mirrors, of sucking up and covering your own ass at the expense of anyone and anything including the welfare of the business with which you are entrusted. Of course this infrastructure exists for a reason and that is to sell unhealthy products at the highest volume possible while delivering a minimum of service and doing it at the lowest cost possible. If you become an expert at this and are able to hide the unpleasant by products of this process successfully from those above you (They know all about it anyway)  then you will do well managing a chain restaurant. Of course I'm sugar coating it.
The food, in order to make it deliberately addictive, is processed with so much fat, grease and sodium that its going to make you unhealthy, contribute to childhood obesity and keep you coming back for more. The alcohol, well we are very careful to train our team members in responsible alcohol service and then we run happy hour specials and signature drink sales contests intended to increase the bottom line and make our staff forget all about responsible alcohol service. So, who do we pump full of our cheap booze before casting them out on the high ways? Parents with small children, office workers, unemployed workers drowning the sorrows on the day the government check comes in, habitual alcoholics who we call regulars and just about anyone else who bellies up to the bar and calls for a 2 for 1 drink. We have ladies night where the ladies are enticed to drink all night long and shot specials and dollar beers which no amount of 25c chicken wings are going to absorb on time to make you safe driving home and every twenty minutes we're checking sales. So there's a lot fundamentally wrong with what we sell and how we sell it, that's one thing and it's endemic so if you can't beat em join em.
Then there's the shocking way we treat our workers. I remember in college reading about time and motion studies which management did on workers in the manufacturing process during the industrial revolution prior to the rise of trade unionism and labor law, back when workers had no rights. I read about the terrible ways in which the migrant farm workers are treated. No days off, 18 hour shifts, not being payed fair wages, cutting workers when they're not needed as dictated by business and the quest for higher profits regardless of the workers own need to pay their bills and receive a living wage. Well all of these practices are alive and well in the restaurant industry and not just for the workers for management as too, at least on the store level. It's pretty standard for a restaurant management recruiter to gush to a candidate; 'The company has a great quality of life; no more than 60-65 hours a week and a weekend day off every month, they might even schedule you two consecutive days off every once in a while!'
Well I'm here to tell you, we hire em when its busy, lay em off when its slow, fire em on a whim and exploit every dumb kid who's willing to buy in to our bull shit and volunteer for anything. We fatten em up, get em drunk and spit em back into the world fat drunk and in trouble. But hey, 'it is what it is.' If you can't beat em, join em.
I wonder if all industries are this bad and I wonder how I live with myself.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just came across your awesome blog. I hope you're still monitoring these comments. I edit WorkersWrite, a website that showcases the stories workers tell about their working lives. I’d like permission to reprint on our website “If you can't beat em, join em” - which is great! Of course, we would credit you, and link back to your site. Please let me know if that would be okay. Thank you!

    Rose Imperato
    Editor, WorkersWrite